2022 IN PICTURES – MAY

May began with a trip to North Street to take in the Hit The North Street Art Festival, getting photos of the pieces of artwork as they were created, and then the finished artwork.

The following weekend, I treated myself to a trip to Scotland, spending most my time in Edinburgh, getting photos of Street Art (of course) and walking up Arthur’s Seat and going for a stroll in Colinton.

It would have been rude not to go to a football match, Livingston v St Johnstone being my match of choice before a day trip to Glasgow saw me get more Street Art photos and visit Cathkin Park, an abandoned football stadium.

Towards the end of the month, it was all about Friday nights, first of all winning a ticket to see Ulster v Sharks.

Then, the last Friday of the month, I went to see Queen (well, half of Queen, but it was still so good) at The Odyssey.

Hit The North

Hit The North Photo Album

Hit The North Aftermath

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Livingston v St Johnstone

Livingston v St Johnstone Photo Album

Glasgow Street Art

Glasgow Street Art Photo Album

Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park Photo Album

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat Photo Album

Colinton

Colinton Photo Album

Ulster v Sharks

Ulster v Sharks Photo Album

Queen + Adam Lambert live at The Odyssey

Queen + Adam Lambert live at The Odyssey Photo Album





NEWCASTLE/YORK/DURHAM

It wasn’t quite a last minute deal, more 80th minute or 85th minute if you want to use a football analogy.

I had some Annual Leave to use up, so booked a three day block Monday to Wednesday on the last week of the month, and then try to find somewhere to go.

That’s the third year in a row now, I think this might officially be a tradition.

In 2020, it was with the intention of basing myself in Bray to head to Dublin and try to blag a ticket for a Euro 2020 Last 16 match.

As we all know, we were all in Lockdown by this point. My hotel cancelled on me, not that there was any football to go to anyway, I was tempted to just go to Bray anyway but the decision was made for me.

Fast forward a year, and i’ll try again.

This time, Dublin lost it’s hosting rights for Euro 2021.

No football, no problem, I can still go to try for a relaxing break by the sea.

Except, my vaccination jab was scheduled for this week (I got a second date when I booked my first whether I wanted it or not) and there was no way out.

So, I rescheduled my Bray trip to August and went to North Down Coastal Walk and Blackhead Path, making the most of the warm weather.

2022, third time lucky for a late June trip to Bray?

And Bray Wanderers were playing a home match on the Monday night as well.

Not for £600 for two nights in a hotel. I decided to give that one a miss.

It’s like i’m destined never to go to Bray for a few days in late June, especially if it involves going to a football match.

So I looked around for a cheap deal, and got flights to Newcastle for £60 and a hotel in Newcastle Quays for £120 for two nights at two weeks notice.

I’d been looking at this trip for a while so why not go for it?

I could use Newcastle as a base to check out York (one hour away) and maybe sneak a trip to Durham (fifteen minutes away) while I was there, depending how things went.

It had been a while since I was in Newcastle, a couple of decades let’s just say. All I remember from the trip is being driven past St James Park and visiting Metro Centre.

Not much lead-in time, but still a lot of excitement as I headed to Belfast International Airport for the relatively civilised departure time of 9.55am, which was full of Culchies, reminding me why I usually travel at 7 or 8am.

Newcastle Airport was straightforward to navigate, straight onto a Metro system which has you in the City Centre in just over twenty minutes.

My hotel was in Newcastle Quays, which I assumed would be close to the City Centre.

It was, ish, but not as close as I hoped it would be.

If I ever do visit Newcastle again, i’ll definitely look for somewhere closer to Central Station.

Despite the not ideal location, the hotel room had a bath.

When you live in a house that only has a shower, this feels like a luxury.

I wasn’t going to spend three days in the bath, Newcastle needed exploring, off I went into the City Centre, taking in Eldon Square.

The highlight for me, was Grainger Market. I absolutely loved it.

No matter where I turned, I seemed to stumble into some independent store I absolutely loved.

Stumbling into things seemed to be a bit of a theme.

I went walking and saw a sign for a shop called Back Page Football.

I’d seen this online and wanted to visit it.

I wasn’t looking for it but was happy to stumble upon it.

It is a football shop. Everything you want, shirts, books, DVDs, programmes, etc.

I found it a bit pricey, especially the programmes, so I left it, but it was nice to have a browse.

From there, I could see St James Park, so it was rude not to have a look.

There was a crowd of people there to welcome Sven Botman, who was rumoured to be signing for Newcastle.

He eventually signed on the Friday night. I hope they weren’t camping out for four days.

From there, it was back on the Metro to visit Jesmond Dene.

As a result of Lockdown I, i’ve gotten really into Hillwalks and Forest Walks.

Now, when I travel somewhere, I make an effort to go for such a stroll.

Making use of the internet, I settled on Jesmond Dene for my stroll.

Not really a hill, but a flat woodland area with some great views and photo opportunities, similar to Colinton.

It’s not the easiest place to find, very little signposting from Jesmond Metro Station, although I found my way back no problem.

One of those places where it becomes easier to find the more times you go.

When I did get there, it was worth it, taking in my surroundings.

There were quite a few doggies going for swims, some of whom splashed me when they were drying themselves.

By the time I arrived, it was teatime, so my visit was going to be timebound a I would need to get back to Jesmond Metro Station, have something to eat and get a bit of rest in my hotel room.

I had planned for twenty minutes out and then, obviously, twenty minutes back.

That escalated to thirty out and then thirty back. I was glad I did.

I did intend of sitting in my hotel room watching TV and not moving, but with it still bright and being right beside Gateshead Millennium Bridge, I decided to head out and hope to get some sunset photos of Tyneside.

The photos were not, I didn’t get the red skies I was hoping for though.

Tuesday was set aside for a day trip to York. It would have been rude not to as it was only an hour away, especially as I had never been to York before.

Newcastle and York having done Edinburgh and Glasgow the previous month, you probably think i’m trying to work my way along the East Coast Mainline.

Doncaster next then.

What did shock me was the price of the train, over £30 for two one hour journeys.

I was probably a bit naive not to book online. It’s a cultural thing. I’m so used to just walking up and purchasing a ticket.

The thing is, I didn’t want to commit to a timeslot. I might have wanted a lie-in on the Tuesday, or I might have fancied a bit of time in Newcastle City Centre before heading to York.

I’m just flabbergasted by over £30 for travelling the distance between Belfast and Ballymena.

Train travel in England is a totally different experience.

Once you see a Burger King on a platform, Great Victoria Street isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Compare the two main stations to any city in England and you start to feel embarrassed.

There are even pubs at train stations.

Some people wouldn’t make it to the platform for Coleraine away if they had that in Northern Ireland.

I headed straight to York Walls when I arrived in York.

To be honest, I found York Walls to be a bit underwhelming.

At least Derry’s Walls, you can see most of the city.

York’s offering was not as spectacular.

Having realised I would just be walking around in a circle, I decided to get off and take in the delights of York City Centre, starting with The Shambles.

As well as The Shambles, I also took in Bootham Bar and Goodramgate.

York as a city is very pricey. It feels like most shops you go into, are designed too get as many pennies as they could out of Tourists, of which there was a lot.

The place was rammed, which surprised me as it was a Tuesday.

Nothing big happens on a Tuesday, I thought it would be off-peak.

Nope, the city was rammed with busloads at both ends of the age scale, Pensioners on coach trips and Schoolkids on school trips.

I’m sure the Schoolkids will have enjoyed the Museum Of Chocolate. Yes, an actual thing.

Yorkie is named after the city, which is also the birthplace of Kitkat.

As a result, York refers to itself as The City Of Chocolate.

And now you’re dreaming of an actual City Of Chocolate, like Homer in that episode of The Simpsons when Springfield Power Plant gets sold to a German company.

Despite the pricey nature of a lot of the shops and attractions, I definitely would go back to York.

Tempted to make a weekend of it, use it as a base to explore North Yorkshire such as North York Moor and Dalby Forest, as well as doing some of the things I didn’t get a chance to do in York due to only having one day to visit, such as walking the canal and going on a boat trip along the canal. Or finish of walking along York Walls.

And, of course, a trip to a match at the LNER Stadium, if there was one on.

The problem is, York isn’t the easiest place to get to from Northern Ireland.

It doesn’t have an airport, so you have to fly somewhere else and then make your way to a train station from there.

Manchester Airport has a direct train service, but that is two hours away.

It looks like the best bet would be to fly to Newcastle, get the Metro into Newcastle City Centre and get a train from there.

I’m genuinely surprised there isn’t a direct bus service from Newcastle, Doncaster/Sheffield or Leeds/Bradford.

After a lovely day of weather, it got dull and dark when I arrived back in Newcastle, so there would be no trying to get sunset photos for a second successive night.

Wednesday would be my last day, so I decided to turn my double header into a triple header by heading to Durham.

It was only fifteen minutes away, so why not?

Although £8 for thirty minutes on a train seemed a bit excessive.

I got off the train and headed down the hill to the City Centre and had a choice, left or right.

Right won, and it led me up a street full of charity shops. Naturally I had a look.

I even scooped a bargain, a Radio 1 25th Anniversary mug for £3.

From there, I headed to Wharton Park, which was a nice walk, very green and serene.

I couldn’t help but think i’d made the wrong decision, so I headed back to see what would have awaited me if if I had taken the option to go left.

From there, I headed to Walkergate and Durham Market, a very enjoyable stroll.

If I was hoping things would be a bit quieter after York the day before, I picked a bad day as the city was packed due to graduation ceremonies.

I’d managed to wrap up Durham in a morning, which was handy as I headed back to Newcastle at lunchtime, so I could take in a final bit of the city before getting ready to head to Newcastle Airport.

I was toying with the idea of going to Gateshead International Stadium (it has a Metro Stop beside it) during my final hours on Tyneside.

It would have been rude not to visit a football ground that was easy to get to, but I didn’t have the time.

I was also tempted to visit Barnard Castle, but my eyesight was perfectly fine, so I didn’t need to.

So, it was time to head from, from Newcastle Airport, which is possibly the shittest airport i’ve ever been to.

An impressive achievement considering i’m a regular user of Manchester Airport.

Where do you start?

Lack of seats, lack of shops, vending machines that don’t give change.

It didn’t even have a Water Refill Station that I had become used to at LNER’s Hubs at Newcastle, York and Durham.

And to top it off, I got stung for £24 when boarding because the wheels on my suitcase were deemed to make it too big for cabin baggage.

Despite the fact it didn’t happen in Belfast, or indeed any other time i’ve brought the bag onto the plane.

To make things worse, it was the smallest bag on the carousel when I went to pick it up.

The delay caused by having to collect my baggage meant I narrowly missed a bus and had to wait over twenty minutes for the next one.

A bit of a shit end to an otherwise enjoyable trip.

I definitely do plan on taking in Newcastle and York again, more likely York.

St James Park Photo Album

Tyneside Sunsets Photo Album

York Walls Photo Album

Wharton Park Photo Album

Durham Photo Album

EDINBURGH/GLASGOW

I’m a massive Scotiaphile. How could you not be? You could argue it’s the greatest country on earth.

Sir Alex, Shortbread, Two Doors Down, Simple Minds, Greatest accent in the world. What’s not to love?

Regular readers will know I head to it’s capital every August. Or at least, I did in Pre Covid Times.

Throughout the Lockdowns, i’d been wanting to head back, even if it was a scaled back trip. I decided to give the Fringe a miss in 2021 as it is a Covidfest. I’ll probably do the same in 2022. I thought I might as well take the opportunity to visit outside of the Fringe, to see what Edinburgh is really like.

I was planning on a Sail And Rail (booking a cabin to escape to) but it wasn’t available on the early morning sailing, so flying it was.

On the flight over, there was an empty row so I moved over to have a row to myself. Although I slept for most of the journey.

Curiously, when the Captain spoke on the tannoy, he sounded like Ronnie Corbett. I don’t know if this is an Easyjet policy of having Pilots who sound like famous people from the city they’re flying to.

When Linfield exited the Irish Cup, I decided to head away on the weekend of the final as i’d anticipated Glentoran winning it, and it doesn’t count if you’re not in the country. Edinburgh was on a shortlist of three.

Also in contention was Brighton, where I visited in November 2021.

The reason for my proposed quick return, apart from Brighton being brilliant, was to turn up at The Amex and try to blag a ticket for Brighton v United. Think I had a lucky escape with that plan.

I also considered Tallinn (decent price flights from Dublin at reasonable times) but as I was booking it in February, uncertainty in Eastern Europe made me decide to give that a swerve. I might look at it again for May/June 2023. Now, if they drew Northern Ireland in Euro 2024 Qualifying …….

So Edinburgh it was, a chance to explore a different city to the Edinburgh I usually visit in August for The Fringe, but this would give me a chance to properly explore Edinburgh.

When you’re at The Fringe, all the venues are compressed into one area. You could spend the whole month of August there and not go anywhere near Princes Street.

The problem with August is, if you take time out to explore somewhere else in Edinburgh or Central Scotland, you’re losing out on Fringe time and performances. It’s a difficult balancing act.

Even when I go to see Edinburgh City, Hearts or Hibs, I feel a bit guilty that i’ve lost out on seeing two shows in the time travelling to and watching football.

It felt strange heading to my accommodation to see Pleasance so quiet.

That accommodation was in Newington, a ground floor apartment.

Newington was an area I was familiar with, having stayed there on my last visit to Edinburgh in 2019.

It is an area with a lot of charity shops, so that helped me kill time before I could check-in to my accommodation.

When I was in one charity shop, I got offered some Es.

Relax though, they were bath bombs in the shape of a letter E that they were giving away.

My flight was early morning, I like to grab every second while i’m away.

It’s the same complaints as the last time I flew from Belfast, that the first bus of the day to International Airport means you won’t get there in time for a 7am flight, and you’d be pushing it if you were flying at 7.30am.

Thankfully, my flight was 8.30am.

At least they have a Boots there now, for those who wish to make some toiletries purchases before they fly.

I don’t care how much of a Tory but this makes me sound, but I have found the recent travel chaos hilarious.

Don’t sit there and say we have to live with Covid and shouldn’t be afraid of Covid and then complain about not being able to travel anywhere because Airline and Airport staff can’t come in to work because they’re riddled with Covid.

It’s what this country deserves for it’s half assed attitude to Covid.

Obviously, you can tell that my journey to and from Edinburgh were unaffected.

One of the first things I do when I arrive in England, Scotland or Wales is pick up a copy of Metro. I just love it, especially Rush Hour Crush.

The rest of Friday was spent checking out a new shopping centre, St James Square.

I say checking it out, I was basically using it as a shortcut to Leith Walk.

Leith Walk is a walk I enjoy, all downhill (not so much fun coming back) with lots of charity shops and independent stores.

Unfortunately, it also has a tram link being built, meaning it had lots of road and footpath out of bounds, which was a pain in the arse. It was like 2009-2012 all over again.

Hopefully, it will all be worth it when it is completed. I might use it to further explore Leith beyond the end of Leith Walk.

Apart from going from Edinburgh Airport to Edinburgh City Centre, I never really use trams when I visit Edinburgh. It doesn’t go anywhere that interests me.

I then when for a stroll along George Street and Rose Street.

This was supposed to be my taking it easy day but somehow I ended up doing 46,000 steps.

Saturday was supposed to begin with a relaxing stroll through Colinton.

However, I slept in and the weather was crap, so I decided to scrap that until later.

Instead, I headed to Grassmarket Market and had a stroll along Royal Mile.

I usually avoid the Royal Mile in August but it wasn’t too bad on a Saturday morning in early May.

After a bit of lunch, it was time for football. It would have been rude not to take in a game while I was away.

When I booked this trip, there was no games scheduled as it was going to be post split, so there might not have been any games on in Central Scotland.

My options were: Celtic v Hearts (Don’t laugh), Hibs v Aberdeen, Livingston v St Johnstone, Dunfermline v Queen’s Park or Rangers v Dundee United.

That was just Football. There was also a Rugby match between Edinburgh and Wasps on the Saturday lunchtime.

I ended up deciding on Livingston v St Johnstone as i’d never been to Almondvale before and I like visiting new grounds.

It was an hour long bus journey along a very scenic route which eventually left me at a Shopping Centre right beside the ground. Just turn to the left and stare out the window through the Lothian countryside.

Before that point though, we were on a motorway that was sandwiched inbetween Tynecastle and Murrayfield.

I discovered (through some tourism literature I picked up) a place called Almond Valley that looks interesting. It seems to be a bit like Colin Glen Forest Park. I might bookmark that for future reference if I go to Edinburgh outside August again.

After the match, it was back to Edinburgh City Centre and straight onto another bus, to Portobello, a seaside town just outside Edinburgh.

The plan was that the weather would be lovely, to walk along Portobello Beach and get some sunset photos.

I did the first part, the walk was lovely, but the photos were crap though. The nice walk made up for it though.

Keeping with the theme of seeing stadiums from buses, I saw Easter Road and Meadowbank Stadium when going to Portobello.

It was intended that one of the days during my stay in Scotland would be a day trip to Glasgow. That day would be Sunday.

Sunday didn’t get off to the best of starts, with my 9.30am train cancelled meaning I had to wait until the 10am train to head to Glasgow.

I was especially keen to visit Glasgow as I hadn’t been since 2015.

Eventually I arrived in Glasgow and walked around, before stumbling into Barras Market.

What a place. So much retro and vintage stuff there just asking to be bought. If only I had the budget to do so.

I cannot comment on rumours that I may or may not have bought some football programmes.

Then I went for a walk through Glasgow City Centre, snapping any Street Art that I saw.

Glasgow had upped it’s weather game, it was roasting all day, getting one over on Edinburgh in that regard.

I didn’t bother heading to Ibrox to try and blag a ticket for Rangers v Dundee United. I did, however, visit a football ground during my visit to Glasgow.

It was one that hadn’t hosted a game since the 1960s though.

Cathkin Park, formerly home ground of two time Scottish Cup winners Third Lanark.

The ground is now a public park, but the terracing is still in place, including crush barriers.

This was a ground I always wanted to visit, and it was worth it.

As I entered the park, I asked someone for directions to the terracing, and he told me he used to play football there.

I jokingly asked him if it was for Third Lanark, and he put me in my place pointing out that he was only 58.

Most of the Rangers fans I saw walking around Glasgow going to and from their match were wearing sombreros. Do they have a big match in Spain coming up?

While I was in Glasgow, the Glasgow Book Festival was on. Unfortunately, none of the events on the day I was there interested me. Annoyingly, Bobby Gillespie was appearing the day before. I definitely would have went if it was on the Sunday instead.

As 7pm passed, and well fed and sore feet, it was time to return to Edinburgh.

The fact there was a Street Performer in Buchanan Street dressed as a Jedi doing moves with a lightsabre suggested it was time to head back.

I say Street Performer, it is Glasgow, that might have been just a normal night out for him.

Monday was the day I had set aside to walk up Arthur’s Seat.

It was a nice walk but the weather was a bit crap which made the photos underwhelming.

The crap weather continued, non stop rain. Well, it is Scotland. As a result, I decided to hold off visiting Colinton until the Tuesday.

My change of plan resulted in me wandering around Haymarket and West End, before heading home around 7pm and putting my feet up. Feet, that were absolutely aching from so much walking.

Tuesday was to be my last day, which meant having to do that most awful part of any trip away, packing up.

Packed up and checked out, I had quite a bit of spare time on my hands, as my flight home wasn’t until 8.40pm.

With the weather now better, I decided to venture up Arthur’s Seat again, to get better photos now that I had daylight to work with.

I might have had daylight to work with, but I was having to deal with wind. Not that sort of wind, how dare you even suggest such a thing.

To give you an idea of how windy it was, my hat blew off.

It was worth it going up, such a great experience. I’m annoyed at myself for going to Edinburgh so many times and not walking up it.

On the way down, I took a bit of a detour, and ended up closer to Easter Road than Waverley Station.

Eventually, I made it back to Princes Street, and finally boarded a bus bound for Colinton.

I was going to joke that Joelinton should sign for Hearts or Hibs and be so good they name the area after him, but it turns out it is pronounced Colin-ton rather than Co-linton.

This was worth it. I had read that it was a place worth visiting, and I was not to be disappointed.

It was easy enough to find when getting off the bus, just follow the signs.

I reached Colinton Tunnel and Colinton Dell, a beautiful walking path and woodland.

Unfortunately, my visit was timebound, so I didn’t get a chance to full appreciate it, going twenty minutes in and then twenty minutes back.

An absolute pity, as I definitely wanted to explore more and more of it.

My next scheduled visit to Edinburgh will be August 2023 for the Fringe. I fully intend to take more time to explore Colinton. I might make a day of it on my last day which is usually wrapping up and not taking in any shows.

There are cafes and pubs there so I can refuel if I need to after going for my walk.

If I had been able to get to Colinton earlier, I would have considered using the free time on Tuesday to go to Stirling.

I’ve never been before so it would have been nice to see what it it is like. Maybe another time.

My visit being timebound worked out well as it started raining as I was getting the bus back to Edinburgh City Centre.

Back to Edinburgh, grab my bags and now for a bus to Edinburgh Airport, and home.

On the bus, there was an information screen with the latest departure information so you can check up on your flight while heading to the airport.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that makes Belfast seen so backward.

It turned out that I was too eager to leave, as I couldn’t get through check-in as the 6.20pm flight to Belfast was still boarding.

My rationale, if you care, was to arrive around 5.30pm-ish, get through security and find somewhere just after 6pm to have something to eat for dinner.

I don’t get bored at airports, I always find something to amuse me. Especially at airports that have lots of free literature available such as newspapers or magazines.

Something that Belfast International Airport could maybe introduce (They definitiely did have free newspapers in the past) to improve the passenger experience. It’s the little things.

Overall, it was a really enjoyable trip.

I’d always wanted to visit Edinburgh outside of August, to see what it’s like.

I love visiting Edinburgh in August, but it is a different city that month compared with the other eleven months of the year.

It felt strange. Nobody offered me a flyer and I didn’t hear a single bagpipe.

When you’re at the Fringe, all the venues are compressed into a relatively small area.

Usually, I would stay in Cowgate, meaning that i’m right beside Pleasance and Underbelly, and I have Edinburgh University only ten minutes walk away.

As a result, I don’t usually stray far from there as that’s where the main venues are.

You are experiencing Edinburgh Fringe, but not really experiencing Edinburgh.

As I said earlier, if you take time out to explore Edinburgh, you are losing time to take in shows.

I have a bit of unfinished business, i’m definitely going to take time in my next visit to Edinburgh to fully explore Colinton.

When will that trip be?

Probably not in August 2022. Edinburgh Fringe will be a Covidfest. I’ll leave it a year to 2023 to see if we can drag the numbers down.

Remember, Covid hasn’t gone away, it’s just that the Government has stopped pretending to give a shit.

I’ll try again in 2023.

I’ll definitely be back at some point.

Hopefully see some celebrities as well. Didn’t see a single one. I usually see someone I recognise while i’m in Edinburgh.

COSTA DEL WARRENPOINT/COSTA DEL CARLINGFORD

I can thank Rupert Murdoch for this one.

With Sky moving Linfield’s match away to Warrenpoint to a lunchtime kick-off, I thought that I might as make use of the spare time (Bit pointless to get home from a match at 4pm) to explore a bit of South Down, especially with the weather being so nice.

Whenever I had previously visited Warrenpoint, it was for football. As you arrive on the edge of the Town Centre, you turn left for the ground so you virtually avoid the town. It always seemed nice from the brief glimpse I had.

I took along the main street towards Warrenpoint Beach. As luck would have it, there was an Artisan Market on that day, so I popped in for a look although it was wrapping up for the day, there was still a decent amount of activity.

From there, I headed to Warrenpoint Beach for a stroll along it, getting some photos.

As I was cramming a lot into a short period of time, there wasn’t much time to retrace my steps.

Disappointingly, I couldn’t see any charity or vintage shops in Warrenpoint, although there were a few decent craft stores.

After a stroll along the beach, it was back into the Town Centre for a bit of Ice Cream. Well, it was the weather for it.

Unfortunately, my dad didn’t win the 50/50 draw at half-time for the £50 voucher for Raymies, which was in someone elses pocket instead.

I’d give Warrenpoint a thumbs up. You wouldn’t spend hours there but it’s a decent place for a brief stop-off on a nice day.

Just as I was thinking of doing the same next season, I checked the league table and realised that won’t be happening.

It wouldn’t be the same in an Irish Cup 1st Round tie in the pissing rain in early January.

From there, I nipped over the border to Carlingford.

I’d never been before, but i’d heard about it, usually from other people visiting it, so I was curious to see what it was like.

Again, I was having to cram a lot in over a short space of time. so I went for a stroll through the Town Centre.

I popped in for a nosey to an Antique Shop called Crystal Antiques, having a rummage through.

No football programmes though, but I did laugh at seeing a poster to promote a wrestling match involving Dave Finlay. I didn’t buy it though.

I may look into the possibility of making a return visit at some point for an overnight stay. We shall see.

I’ve got a bit of Annual Leave to use up before the end of June so I have a couple of Fridays off so I may use Translink’s Mourne Rambler service to, um, ramble in the Mournes.

It was a long, but enjoyable (the mood definitely helped by Linfield’s late winner) day. I was absolutely shattered when I got home, but it was worth it.

Photo Album

2021 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, while I was there, I took the opportunity to check out Street Art. Might as well, seeing as it was my first time there in two years.

Later that week, I did something else I hadn’t done for a long time. Not as long, just over eighteen months. I am of course referring to going to a concert, in this case, Lightning Seeds at The Limelight.

That was then followed by two road trips for Linfield away games, to Portadown and Crusaders.

Sandwiched inbetween that was another road trip, this time to Ards to get some Street Art photos, with a recent event having taken place.

It was a month of doing things I hadn’t done for a while. This time, going on a flight.

The destination was Gatwick, but not to go to London, but Brighton instead.

So many photo adventures, where to start?

Street Art in Brighton, of course. Also, a walk along Beachy Head, OMD in concert, and some sunsets while I was in Brighton.

Back home, a return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville.

Two days later, I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans in concert.

The month ended with Linfield matches against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Ards Street Art

Ards Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Brighton Street Art

Brighton Street Art Photo Album

Beachy Head

Beachy Head Photo Album

OMD live at Brighton Centre

OMD live at Brighton Centre Photo Album

Brighton Sunset

Brighton Sunset Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

BRIGHTON

This should have been five nights in London but having observed the lack of effort the city has made in relation to Covid, I decided to have a change of plan. You have to go back to May 2020 for this one.

Back then, Airlines were offering bargain deals for consumers all the way through to 2021 to make up for the money lost in 2020. A few more weeks, and Covid will be over by the start of Summer 2020. Remember such optimistic times.

I logged on and booked flights for five days in London in July 2020, get out of Belfast during Silly Season and be in London for the weekend of the European Championship Final to see if I could blag a ticket (although most of the crowd at Wembley that night managed to get in without one) and even if I didn’t, I would have a weekend exploring London and all that.

It soon became obvious that London’s Covid response of “Fuck it, we’ll wing it” wasn’t really working, I decided to just give it a miss and change my flights to later in the year, and downgrade my trip to three days in Brighton. Downgrade in number of days only. I think i’ve just spoilt what my verdict on Brighton is going to be.

The last time I was in London, in 2018, I regretted not sneaking in a day trip to Brighton, so that’s why I slotted in an extra day to the London trip, which would have been Monday 12th July if all had gone well.

As it turned out, the Sunday I should have been in London was widespread public unrest due to the football, the, um, highlight of which was someone shoving a smoke bomb up their bum.

Then on the Monday, there was torrential rain in London which resulted in Brian May’s house flooding, as well as some other mortals who weren’t in Queen.

I’m guessing that the flooding was bad as there where a lot of posters in Brighton to advertise that his wife is doing Panto in Brighton this Christmas.

It looks like I made the right decision giving London a swerve that weekend. It’s almost quite impressive for a place to be so bad that you’d rather spend mid July in Belfast.

I’ve got a milestone birthday coming up in early 2023, so i’m looking at ideas for places to go. Seriously London, can you get your act together?

I decided to go ahead with this trip. I could have just been constantly putting the trip off and off forever.

This was my first flight since January 2020. I have a lot of observations about flying out of Belfast.

The first one is getting there. My flight was at 8.30am, so I got the 6am bus to get me there for around 6.30am. That was the first bus of the day. There were flights leaving before mine, so if there were people looking to get there for one of the earlier flights by Public Transport, they would be cutting it fine.

Belfast International Airport now has Water Refill Points, except, they don’t advertise them or have them signposted. If i’d known, I would have brought an empty bottle with me.

I did plan to get a bottle of water but after being quoted £2.70 at Fed And Watered, I decided I could live without it for a few hours. Seriously, can we stop using Covid as an excuse to take the piss with pricing?

It would be nice if people could learn how to walk on the left. It’s not that hard, it’s literally the first thing you learn in school. Especially so as Belfast International Airport isn’t the most spacious.

Also, masks over noses. You’ve made the effort to wear one, at least do it properly.

The mask ratio was a lot higher than a lot of other places I have been to, but it would have been more reassuring if it was a bit higher. Oh sorry, I forgot, quite a lot of people suffer from Maskexemptionitis.

It would have been nice if there was a pharmaceutical shop, such as Boots, Semichem, Savers or Superdrug.

As I had already paid for baggage, it was too much effort to change it, so I just went with it. If I was booking a new trip, I would have just taken a small wheelie bag and bought mini shower gel/toothpaste/etc at the airport. Well, I would have if there was a shop to buy it in.

Sometimes, I forget my toothbrush having brushed my teeth when getting ready and forgetting to put it in my bag, so I buy a £1 disposable one at the airport to do me. Well, if there was a shop where I could buy such a thing.

Information Screens could only hold one page of info but they publish two pages worth of information, and they stay on pages for a long time. At least with Ceefax, you could push a button on your remote to change the page.

If i’m there at 7am, I don’t really need to know about flights at 3pm. Or at least, get a bigger screen to cover two pages worth of information like Gatwick Airport has?

Whenever I was called to boarding, there was another flight boarding in the same area as mine. Hardly the most Covid secure idea to have so many people loitering about a small area, and they were both on the same airline. Surely they could have moved to another gate? And if people are called, get them on the plane instead of making them stand about and queue.

So, I arrived in Gatwick, before heading to Gatwick Train Station for the short journey to Brighton, accompanied by a copy of Metro.

I love Metro, probably because we don’t have it in Northern Ireland. Rush Hour Crush is my dirty little secret. They were blank on Monday and Tuesday. What was wrong with you England? I know Metro is available in Scotland and Wales as well, but it’s mostly (all?) people from England who post submissions.

There was a lot of submissions in Wednesday’s edition. There was a woman who had the horn for a man she saw eating a tuna sandwich.

Eventually, I arrived in Brighton, and dumped my luggage in my hotel, as I was a bit early for my check-in.

I stayed at Hotel Pelirocco, perfectly situated for both Brighton Beach and Brighton City Centre. It was easy to find too, being right beside British Airways 360.

Coincidentally, that would be my first place to go.

I usually avoid big touristy places but I made an exception for this. It’s an Observation Tower, allowing you to take in the sights of Brighton from a great height.

The best things is, you don’t have to walk up stairs or take a lift. You just walk in and the building moves upwards.

I booked on the next available flight, which was 12pm, although I later wished I was on the next one at 12.30pm, so I could be on the 12.30 flight, like in Africa by Toto.

It was a great opportunity to check out the views of Brighton, with each section you go to having the sights and landmarks to look out for highlighted for you.

One of those, was The Amex Stadium. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day so I couldn’t added to my Football Stadiums Viewed From A Great Height alongside Windsor Park, Solitude, The Oval, Easter Road and Edgeley Park.

I did go past it on a train on the Tuesday though.

As it was a weekday in November, it wasn’t that busy thankfully.

I was trying to imagine something in Belfast, and then I remember people would get offended about it being sponsored by British Airways, then they would argue about where to build it and what should be considered landmarks. People in Belfast aren’t allowed to have nice things. At least we can walk up Cavehill.

The rest of Monday was spent walking along Brighton Beach and Brighton Pier, Kemptown, The Laines and North Laine. Nothing much, just taking it easy.

I’ve discovered my new favourite shop, Snooper’s Paradise. It’s self explanatory really, a Retro/Vintage/Junk Store that is great for rummaging around for bargains. It is my sad duty to inform Empire Exchange in Manchester that they are no longer my favourite shop. I still love them though.

After checking in to my hotel and then going for a bite to eat, I was ready to put my feet up for the night. Tuesday was going to be a busy day.

Breakfast at my hotel was at 8am. As I was up early on the Tuesday, I headed for a stroll along Brighton Beach just to kill time.

As I walked along, I saw a camera crew. I was curious who it was, naturally. I had assumed that it was BBC Breakfast or Good Morning Britain doing a Live OB.

I then spotted a man in mismatching bright clothes. It wasn’t? It only was, Michael Portillo filming a new series of Great British Railway Journeys.

There’s a little exclusive for you. And yes, I was giddy with excitement at such a celeb spot.

After a spot of breakfast, I headed to Brighton Train Station.

I had planned to take in a hillwalk while I was there, and Tuesday was the day I had in mind for doing it.

That would involve a train journey to Eastbourne to visit Beachy Head. There’s a separate blog on that.

I got derailed, excuse the pun, by spotting some Street Art, going to get photos of it, and going for a wander around Kemptown.

Eventually I made it to Brighton Train Station, just missing the next direct train to Eastbourne.

I was able to get a train which meant I had a brief stopover in Lewes, which I took, getting to spot The Amex Stadium out of my window, adding it to my list of Football Stadiums Gone Past On A Train which includes Windsor Park, The Oval, Seaview, Lansdowne Road and Edgeley Park.

My train also went past Hampden Park. However, it was not a detour to Glasgow, but an area of Eastbourne.

That stopover in Lewes allowed me to get some food stock for when I was walking Beachy Head.

I arrived in Eastbourne and had a quick ramble through the City Centre. It’s ok. Lots and lots of charity shops if Charity Shop Rummages are your thing. St Wilfred’s had a lot of old News Of The World Football Annuals if that is your thing.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check out Eastbourne Pier or Eastbourne Beach, so I can’t give that a review.

I then headed back to Eastbourne Train Station to get a taxi to Beachy Head.

Beachy Head isn’t actually that far from Eastbourne City Centre, but it’s not accessible by Public Transport during Winter. There is a service during the Summer though.

My taxi wasn’t too expensive, £7 each way.

I really enjoyed my visit to Beachy Head, probably because the weather was kind, before getting a taxi back and then a train back to Brighton.

After a brief return to my hotel room, putting my feet up for a short period, it was back out to see OMD at Brighton Centre on Tuesday night.

Wednesday morning, I was again up early, so I went for a stroll along the beach again to kill time before breakfast, although I didn’t spot Michael Portillo this time.

My brief walk escalated out of control and I ended up at Brighton Marina.

Following breakfast, I headed to Churchill Square Shopping Centre. Not for pleasure, out of necessity as my phone charge was broke and I needed a new one. I did make a note to come back though to the shopping centre and general area.

Upon my return to the hotel, came the worst part of any trip, packing up to go home. It turned out that I would push my 12pm check-out to the limit.

As my flight wasn’t until 8.25pm, I had a bit of time to kill, taking in Kemptown again, Churchill Square and The Laines. Basically, a wrap-up day.

Killing time at Brighton Pier, I decided to make the most of it being a nice day knowing it would be favourable conditions to get some sunset photos, starting at Brighton Pier and making my way along Brighton Beach towards Regency Square. There’s a separate blog for that.

And that was that, three days in Brighton with a lot crammed in. I’d really recommend a trip to Brighton if you get the chance, so much to see and do.

Any time I visit London (when they decide to get their act together with the whole not getting Covid thing) in the future, i’ll definitely put a day aside to visit Brighton.

If you are doing a day trip to Brighton, I would advise that you have an idea in mind of what you want to see and do, just to make the most of your time. More than one day, walk about, explore and stumble into things.

A trip that was delayed, and then altered, it was worth it, very enjoyable. Sometimes, ruined plans can be an opportunity to go in another direction.

DUN LAOGHAIRE STREET ART

Having spotted a story on RTE a few months back about the town of Dun Laoghaire getting spruced up with some Street Art, it would be rude of me not to investigate further and see it for myself, especially when I would be passing through.

Sandwiched on the DART between Dublin and Bray, I didn’t really know much else about Dun Laoghaire, so I thought I would pop along, getting a DART from Bray.

That left me in the Town Centre. All the artwork was easy to find, everything being nice and compact, getting as many photos as I could.

I only had a short amount of time in Dun Laoghaire, so I made the most of it, checking out the Town Centre and Harbour.

With the palm trees, sunshine and architecture, it all felt very Mediterranean.

There’s more to Dun Laoghaire than Street Art, and I’d recommend it if you’re in Dublin and looking for something a bit different.

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BRAY HARBOUR

It really is impossible to take a bad photo of Bray Harbour on a sunny day.

After walking up Bray Head, then having a relax in my hotel room, next up for me on Tuesday lunchtime was a stroll along Bray Harbour.

I got straight to work, getting snaps of the Harbour, with Bray Head in the background, as well as plenty of yachts and swans.

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BRAY HEAD – AUGUST 2021

Not wanting to waste time trying to find Great Sugar Loaf, I decided that my Tuesday morning in Bray would be spent walking up Bray Head.

I’m told that there are spectacular views, not that I saw any.

Walking the same way as the Bray To Greystones Walk, I took a detour upwards along Butler’s Way.

The route was pretty much straightforward, although there a few nettles to navigate around.

This walk isn’t for arachnophobes as there a lot of spiderwebs.

Eventually, I reached the top, and was treated to fog, meaning the views at the top weren’t as spectacular as I’d hoped.

It also meant that getting down would see me in a bit of trouble if I took a wrong turn.

Going down was slippery and slidey, so I just had to take my time.

My best photos came when I was going through the forest.

Of course, the weather changed for the better at lunchtime, when I was on lower ground.

Due to other plans, I wouldn’t be making a return visit on this trip.

It just means I’ll have to go back up the next time I’m in Bray, which I will definitely do.

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BRAY TO GREYSTONES WALK

I could have taken the DART, but that would have been no fun.

Having dumped my bag at my hotel in Bray before I could check in, I had a bit of time to kill.

So, I decided to walk from Bray to Greystones. I’d done part of it twice before. When I say part of it, only a small part. Like literally, a wee bit at the start.

As I walked from Bray Promenade to the starting point, I made sure I was stocked up with the essentials. A bottle of water for hydration and a bar of chocolate for energy. That’s my reasoning and i’m sticking to it.

Walking at the start, I noticed there were a lot of benches. My advice is to make the most of it as there aren’t many other opportunities for a sit down after the point.

DART Passengers get the opportunity to take in some spectacular views on this route, but those DARTs give those on foot the opportunity for spectacular photos as there are great positions to take aerial photos of passing trains.

Of course, when I reached those points, there were no trains passing, and I wasn’t in the mood for waiting, so on I went.

Just like Cavehill and Cregagh Glen, Bray To Greystones is a route that takes a battering when there is rain, which I presume there had been in the days preceding my visit (there was in Belfast on those days) meaning there was still some muck and puddles about even though it was roasting.

At the early stage of the walk, there is a mural identifying all the wildlife there is on the trail, if you wish to keep an eye out.

It is a very narrow path, so it is best to avoid peak times. Travelling on a Monday morning, I did just that.

As with any walking journey, I usually just go for an hour and see where it takes me. This path felt never ending, an hour and a half seeing me arrive in Greystones Harbour.

A brief walk around Greystones Harbour and a bit of lunch, I then jumped on the DART to head back to Bray.

Well, I was hardly going to walk it back, my feet were aching.

That is probably a sign of a good walk, which this definitely was.

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